With sewing or fashion design, my ambitions are bigger than my skill level. Which is nothing new for me, really; my garden started out the same way. I must have started 300 seeds indoors my first year of gardening, many of which were plants I just read about and sounded beautiful, but I had no idea if they would work in our climate or when to plant them for their best benefit. I pruned things wily-nily, I planted stuff in hard clay. Over time, the information all started to fit–it just took some mistakes, or noticing the behavior of plants over time.
I never would have learned this in a book or blog, but I learned the hard way not to prune tender things before a frost. I lost a beloved Barbados Cherry tree because I pruned during a beautiful spring March day. It had struggled the summer before with drought and lost most of its leaves but was still alive. After pruning it the tree immediately began to grow tender new leaves, but a sudden late March frost killed this growth and the entire tree with it. I knew by watching the tree that what little hope for nutrients it had, in the form of these tender leaves, were demolished with the frost. Over time, some things just become intuitive.
It feels good to know things intuitively, not to have to run to a book or blog or feel lost in the maze of information and plants and seeds and beautiful gardens that you wish you could have. The same with sewing. Although I started sewing at a young age, I only used store-bought patterns, and I never really learned how or why they fit. I just basically sewed the “formula”.
For the last year, I’ve decided to start again but this time make some clothes that I would really love and wear, and possibly do the same for others. There is a motherload of information on sewing that was never around when I was putzing away at my sewing machine in college. Just as with gardening, all this user-information will change the way people do things, perhaps even change the way fashion is made and fitted as well. People really do want clothes that fit them.
The huge disadvantage of sewing one’s own clothes is that you don’t always get the seasonal fabrics or prints you see in current fashion. Most retail fabrics are woefully behind the times. That’s why I’m trying to stick with solids and in some colors that are relatively timeless. Most fabrics in athletic clothing, for instance, are really up to the date in knit technology and it’s pretty difficult to find comparable fabrics for, say, swimsuits or gym clothes.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading about my sewing and design adventures. I’m writing my journey as I go.